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Famous Citizens of Pszczyna

Andreas Hindenberg
(living at the turn of 17th century)
An outstanding cartographer, author of the oldest map of Pszczyna region, dating back to 1636. Hindenberg not only visited the entire land on foot, but he also carried out trigonometric measurements. The result was a colourful map sized 270 cm x 300 cm (later cut into 12 parts), considered the oldest large-scale economy map (1:18 728) in the territory of Poland. The author called it Ichnoorthographia Plesniaca, and himself “the old servant of the Promnitzs”. The map is decorated with family trees and the crest of the Pszczyna state owners as well as crests of gentry. The unique character of this work derives from the pictures of towns, villages, farms, rivers and woods. It contains the first known view of the castle in Pszczyna. It is kept in the State Archives in Pszczyna.

Baltazar Erdmann Promnitz (1659 - 1703)
German count, baron of Pszczyna from 1664 to 1703. Born in 1659 in Żary, he inherited the estate composed of the state of Pszczyna and of Żary-Trzebiel very quickly, after his father’s death in 1664. He systematically purchased new grounds, e.g. Katowice and Brynów, becoming one of the most effluent noblemen in Silesia and Lusatia. His reign in Pszczyna he started with prohibiting Jewish settlement in the town, reconstructing Bieruń (1677) and Pszczyna (1679) which had been burnt down, reconstructing the castle in Pszczyna and erecting the “Warta” (Guards) building with “Brama Wybrańców” (Gate of the Privileged). He patronized crafts guilds, issuing numerous privileges for tailors, cloth-makers and tanners. He obtained a privilege of weekly fairs for Pszczyna from the emperor. In 1702 he entertained the Saxon elector and Polish king Augustus II the Strong.
He was a keen hunter and arts patron. He maintained a library and invited theatrical groups.

Georg Philip Telemann (1681 - 1767)
One of the most outstanding composers of the German Baroque. In 1705-1709 he was a musician and bandmaster in the Promnitzs’ court in Żary and Pszczyna, and that is why in the summer months 1704 - 1707 he was a frequent visitor to Pszczyna. In his autobiography he confessed that it was here, in Pszczyna and Krakow, that he got acquainted with the Polish music in its entire beauty.
In the Mirror Room of the Castle Museum there have been Baroque music concerts organised since 1979, reminding of Telemann’s stay in the castle, which is why they are called “Evenings with Telemann”.

Friedrich Erdmann von Anhalt-Köthen (1731 - 1797)
Prince of Pszczyna in years 1765-1797, the first one from the Saxon family of Anhalt-Köthen. Destined to enter military service, he joined the Prussian army, and next he changed for the French one where he fought Prussian troops during the Seven Years’ War, winning the recognition of king Luis XV of France and gaining the general’s degree. In 1765 he received the free state of Pszczyna from his uncle Johann Erdmann von Promnitz - 3 towns and 49 villages. In 1768, he completed the Baroque modernisation of the castle in Pszczyna, in the seventies he modified the park in line with the sentimental style. In Pszczyna he created his own refined court, with his own band and library. He raised his estate from the damage brought about by the Seven Years’ War, opening the first coal mines in the Upper Silesia, glassworks and zinc-works, as well as cloth manufactures in Pszczyna and ensuring unsurpassed development of Pszczyna estate. He was a friend of many European rulers - Luis XV of France, Catherine the Great of Russia, and he also entertained king Frederick William II of Prussia.
He died in 1797 in the castle in Pszczyna and was buried in the family graveyard in the Castle Park.

Johann Heinrich XI von Hochberg, Prince von Pless (1833-1907)
The oldest son of Johann Heinrich X, he was one of the princes who ruled the longest. He owned Pszczyna estate (in 1855-1907) and many other magnificent estates, e.g. Książ near Wałbrzych. He enjoyed high position on Berlin court, being a close friend and co-worker of William I and Frederick III. It was thanks to him that Pszczyna may be proud of its today’s castle, as its appearance dates back to the reconstruction in 1870-76. He also contributed to modernising and expanding the town - thanks to his financial support there were many innovations introduced to Pszczyna and the new district was constructed southwards of the old town.

Thanks to the hunting passion of the prince, there was the hunting palace constructed in Promnice where Johann Heinrich collected numerous hunting trophies. It was him that introduced European bison to the woods of Pszczyna in 1865 and also developed a great stable in Pszczyna-Sznelowiec. As a keen hunter, he had the title of the Master of the Chase of the king of Prussia until his death. Johann Heinrich XI was a perfect manager of his estate. His important contribution was the introduction of modern forestry and protection of the Woods of Pszczyna, modernization of agricultural rules in the region (fields’ drainage, marsh drainage, river control). At the same time the prince supported the development of industry, expanding the prince’s brewery to equal the largest brewery in Silesia (1861-1903), constructing the cellulose manufacture in Czułów (1887), and also supporting the construction of new roads and railways (Ligota-Pszczyna 1870).

He died on 14th August 1907 in Albrechtsberg Castle in Saxony, and was buried in the family mausoleum in the Castle Park in Książ.

Johann Heinrich XV von Hochberg, Prince von Pless (1861 - 1938)
A German count and baron in Książ, owner of Pszczyna estate from 1907 to 1937. Born in Pszczyna in 1861, he received a thorough university education and, having completed his military service in the emperor’s army, he started working in German diplomatic corps. It was then that he married a beautiful English woman called Daisy. In 1892 he came to stay in the family manor in Książ. With his wife, he travelled across Europe, Africa, Asia and America. He would frequently hunt in the woods of Pszczyna together with emperor William II. Following his father’s death in 1907, he inherited one of the largest estates in Germany - the estate of Pszczyna and Wałbrzych. This estate was becoming successively encumbered with debts due to the spendthrift lifestyle of the family, maintaining the court composed of 200 servants and organizing sumptuous receptions. Despite all that, however, in 1914-1924 the prince carried out numerous industrial investments in the Upper Silesia (construction of 5 mines and residential colonies for clerks and workers). After 1918 he supported the idea of the so-called free state of Silesia, helping the local separatist movements and opposing the Polish independence movement. In 1922, for fear of being deprived of Pszczyna estate, he became a Polish citizen, still living in Germany. Only in 1936, pressed by his creditors, he left Germany and returned to Pszczyna. He settled with Silesian voivode Michał Grażyński and the state of Poland, signing in 1937 the agreement, by means of which he waived the mining privilege in the land of Pszczyna as well as the tax agreement. Pursuant to the latter, the state of Poland took over 56% of his estate (primarily the woods of Pszczyna). He died in Paris in 1938, and was buried in the Castle Park in Pszczyna.

Mary Theresa Cornwallis-West - called Daisy (1873 - 1943)
Princess of Pszczyna, wife of Johann Heinrich XV Hochberg von Pless, English woman closely connected with the court of king Edward VII and George V, related to the grandest British aristocratic families. Her brother George was a step-father of Winston Churchill. As one of the most beautiful European ladies, in 1891 she married Prince of Pszczyna, Johann Heinrich XV who worked at that time in London in the German embassy. Before World War I the Plesses lived a spendthrift life, spending time either for balls, visits and hunting in England, Vienna, Cannes or Monte Carlo or for exotic trips to Africa and yachting. Daisy was a pacifist. During World War I, she sent dramatic appeals to governments, asking them to treat the prisoners of war in a humane way. She also started working in the sanitary trains on the Serbian, French and Austrian front line.

After the war she divorced her husband who got married again to a young Spanish aristocrat Clotilde Silva y Candanamo. When Książ got occupied by the Nazis, she went to the park villa of the Castle in Wałbrzych where she died in complete loneliness. She was a mother of Johann who took over the estate of Pszczyna, Alexander who became Catholic and, sympathizing with Poland, stayed close to General Sikorski during World War II, and Bolko who died early in dubious circumstances.

Heinrich Wilhelm Friedrich Schaeffer (1787 - 1870)
The counsellor of the Prince’s chancellery in Pszczyna and its archivist. Born in 1787 in Pszczyna; son of the judge of the Prince’s state court. His professional career in the administration of the Prince’s estate was started from the lowest level, and he was a clerk, writer, assessor, and finally counsellor. In 1834 Prince Ludwig von Anhalt-Köthen appointed him head of the archive and requested him to compile all the archive resources, mainly due to the fact that Schaeffer knew all the languages used in the files - German, Polish, Czech and Latin. He completed this task in 1851, already under Hochberg rule. In 1846 he took care of the Prince’s library with 5459 items in the catalogue at that time.

Upon taking the archive over, he started writing a chronicle of the free state of Pszczyna which he failed to complete. The chronicle was divided into three parts - the first one devoted to the rule of the Piast and Promnitz priences, the second to Princes von Anhalt-Köthen (not completed), and the third one with current events he witnessed (this section covers the years 1827-1847). In 1997 the Municipal Office in Pszczyna published the Polish translation of Schaefer’s Chronicle.

Christian Schemmel (1807-1862)
Teacher, mayor, printing house owner, publisher, bookseller, journalist, state officer. Born in 1807 in Karlmarkt, he studied in Wrocław. In 1826 he received the position of the teacher in the Prince’s school in Pszczyna. In 1830 he opened a lithographic plant which quickly grew to become a large and well-equipped printing house. In 1836 he was appointed the mayor of Pszczyna. During his term of office he gained much recognition of the inhabitants and authorities, especially in the years 1846-47 during the drought, famine and plague. For his merits he was appointed landrat (highest executive officer in the poviat) in Oleśno.

He is best known for his publishing activity. The knowledge of the Polish language helped him publish some very interesting books. His greatest accomplishment is the publication of Tygodnik Polski. Poświęcony włościanom since 5th July 1845 which was the first Polish magazine in the Upper Silesia, fully published in Polish, and meant for village dwellers.

Jan Kupiec (1841-1909)
Poet, collector of the Polish folk songs, education activist. Born in 1841 in Bielsko as a son of a peasant from Łąka, who fled abroad to Bielsko to avoid joining the Prussian army. Since his mother died early, he grew up in Łąka in the home of his mother’s sister. There he inherited some arable land and earned his living by cultivating his farmland. Since he was 15, he wrote down lay and church Silesian songs, as well as fables and stories. In 1861-71 he served in the Prussian army, participating in two wars.

He cooperated with “Oświata” from Poznań which published his letters and folk materials in the years 1876-1885. They were also published in four volumes as Powieści i bajki śląskie (Silesian Novels and Tales) in the years 1884-94. He opened Towarzystwo Oświaty Ludowej and Towarzystwo Czytelni Ludowej in Łąka. His own collection of books contained 600 volumes. Besides numerous occasional pieces of verse, he wrote three poems: “Historia baranów” (History of Sheep), “Sejmik w Jassach” (Regional Council in Jassy) and “Cyganka” (Gypsy Woman). He died in Łąka in 1909.

Ludwik Stefan Musioł (1892-1970)
Teacher, school inspector, outstanding historian and archivist of Silesia, precursor of regional and cultural studies. He was born in 1892 in Mikołów. He was a versatile scientist: a historian of culture and Church, linguist, archivist, Old Polish expert and one of the most magnificent experts on Silesian history. He had exceptional emotional bonds with Pszczyna. He co-founded the college for teachers here and started his research works which led to publishing his best work called Pszczyna. Monografia historyczna in 1936.

His stay in Pszczyna, from 1922 to 1931, was a breakthrough in his career as it was here that he browsed and studied the rich archive of the princes of Pszczyna. His archive discoveries were later used in many outstanding historical works. He died in 1970 in Katowice.